Crispy Snack and a Wife Paved Way to Drayson's [Pounds Sterling]87 Million

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Byline: COLIN ADAMSON

PAUL DRAYSON'S career has been packed with drama during the relatively short time it has taken him to acquire a paper fortune of [pound]87million.

The Sunday Times lists him as the 676th richest person in the country. The 41-year-old entrepreneur owes much of his success to his own glittering academic background. But he is also indebted to the marriage which propelled him into the higher echelons of Oxford academe.

After leaving Aston University with a BSc and PhD in robotics, the young engineering doctor with an inventive urge, first went to Rover Cars where he worked in product development and marketing. From there he moved to Lam- bourne Foods, a biscuit-making offshoot of sweets company Trebor. And it was there he helped to give birth to a crispy snack called the Scoople - described by the few who remember it as a curly Ryvita.

"It was a shaped crispbread product," he recalls. "We identified a technology relating to the biscuit extrusion process, which allowed you to shape the product. In a way, we broke the mould."

After leading a management buyout when Trebor was taken over by Cadbury-Schweppes, Dr Drayson cashed in by selling the company on in 1991. He pocketed his first quarter of a million.

Two years later, the young businessman walked into a science laboratory in Oxford and fell in love with Elspeth Bellhouse, the mother of his four children and the woman who, through her brilliant physicist father Brian, offered him the gateway to major riches in the pharmaceutical world.

Elspeth Drayson has since been pivotal to her husband's career. He describes her as a "very constructively critical" shareholder in his company and credits her with " looking after" the family finances.

He has joked about a photograph taken of Elspeth after the birth of their first child - it features her in the maternity suite doing the PowderJect payroll on her bed.

The couple live in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. Dr Drayson lists his hobbies as fencing and playing with his children. He says his commitment to developing drugs stems from his having suffered with asthma as a child. He once faced derision from analysts for including an impassioned account of his own health

problems in a set of disappointing financial results. He says he also wants to help to improve the NHS where he can, and in 1999 he gave [pound]1. …